Saturday, September 25, 2010

Multi-Unit Rental Property

Multi-unit residences in North and South Carolina are traditionally a good investment, because they are considered recession-proof. Everyone needs a home and multi-unit homes offer amenities at an affordable price.

If you are looking at potential investments, multi-units may be a good fit, but you should first consider if the units can provide you with an adequate potential cash flow--will the income from the properties cover your monthly costs, and the taxes, emergencies, and repairs.

You also need to think about the care and maintenance, marketing and management of the property and residences, and who will take care of these responsibilities.

Property Managers are a good option for owners of multi-unit properties. Not only can they take care of collecting the rent and handling minor disputes, they also are charged with keeping the buildings and property in good working order. A property manager will market the units and screen potential tenants.

Ultimately your ownership of a multi-unit property will be a good investment if you are able to manage the property properly.. and that is something that a professional property management company can assist you with and make your investment one with a positive cash flow.

Charlotte Property Manager
Kuester Property Management

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Green Ideas Your HOA Will Love

Your HOA may not like it if you put a compost pile in your front yard, or let your lawn go "au natural," but there are some things that you can do to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly that won't get you a fine from the HOA!

You can:

Buy Energy Star appliances - these are not the end-all and be-all of the environmental movement, but they are a good start.

Plant HOA approved trees and plants - Planting trees will help replace oxygen and remove CO2. The more you can plant, the better your gift back to the environment.

Use Low Volitile Organic Compound Paints (VOC) - VOC paints are non-toxic and will not pollute your indoor air.

Use LEED-Certified Building Materials - LEED Certifications come in different levels, but it all comes down to how environmentally responsible the materials are. If you are building a home, or addition, think about using a LEED certified builder and LEED certified materials.

Use Mult-Zone HVACs - Buy an HVAC system that is designed to distribute air to different parts of your home and pre-programmed times to keep the parts of the homes at different temperatures depending on usage. The initial cost will be more, but the savings can more than make up for it... and it is better for the environment!

Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs - The bulbs are becoming the norm, but you can still buy the old kind... When given the choice, take the greener compact or LED route.

Make sure that recycling bins are put in common areas with the garbage - By simply giving neighbors the option to recycle, most will!

Start a Green Committee - Join forces with your neighbors to help educate each other on green-options, innovative ways to be environmentally conscious and provide assistance to the HOA in making better decisions.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Before You Join an HOA Community

A Homeowner Association (HOA) is a legal entity created to manage and maintain the common areas of a community. Generally these"common areas" consist of things like pools, clubhouses, landscaping, parks, streets and roads, but a HOA also governs the CC&Rs, the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions, or set of rules that are typically set up by the developer and updated/changed by the Board of Directors. The CC&Rs are what determines if it is ok for you to leave your garbage can out for more than a day or if you are allowed to leave a car up on blocks in your front yard, or if your neighbors will have recourse if you choose to paint your shutters purple when theirs (and the rest of the neighborhood's) are black.

The HOA will enforce these CC&Rs in the way that is approved by the Board of Directors, often with the assistance of a property management company. These polices are developed to protect the neighborhood, the value of the homes and the quality of life for the residents. However, these policies can be changed if the majority of the voting neighbors would like them to be. So before you buy a home in an HOA, here are some things to consider:

1) You should thoroughly read and examine the CC&Rs that govern the community and make sure you can live with and abide by them. If the regulations state that you cannot have goats on your property, and you are a goat owner... this may be a sticky point! But if you think that 24 hours is plenty of time to leave out your recycling bin and you feel that is a fine policy and want your neighbors to abide by the HOA may be perfect for you.

2) You are perfectly reasonable to ask for a copy of the financial statements of the HOA and have a person such as a lawyer or accountant examine them to make sure there is nothing irregular. Checking to see if the HOA runs its business in a responsible manner will help you determine if the neighborhood will have enough cash on hand to make upgrades and repairs to roads or other common areas such as the pool.

3) Find out what the monthly dues are and make sure you can afford them. Dues can be reasonable... or not depending on where you live, what the HOA does and your tolerance for the price-tag. But not paying them could put you in some serious hot water and potentially get you sued.

4) Find out if the HOA has a strategy for replacing of major items such as heating, cooling, roads, buildings and roofs and how the reserve requirements are funded. (i.e. has money been saved, or would the neighbors each be required to pay an additional amount should the basketball court need to be re-surfaced.)

5) Find out if there is any litigation pending against the HOA. This could be a red flag in a couple of different ways, and certainly something you should know before you sign your contract.

6) Ask about when the last time dues were raised, and how often this happens. For obvious reasons you want to know how much you may be expected to fork over!

An HOA community may be a great fit for you and your family and more an more Carolinians are making this choice. But be educated before entering into any contract, especially one concerning where you live and what you can do with your property.

Property Manager
Kuester Property Management

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Going Green and Your HOA

Many people throughout the Carolinas are making an effort to incorporate "Green" ideas into their daily living. Yet, for those of us who live in neighborhoods with Home Owner's Associations, being "green" can sometimes cause problems!

Energy-saving ideas such as using clotheslines, solar panels, and replacing our grass lawns with rocks and drought resistant plants are generally frowned upon in most of the covenants used by local HOAs.

So what is an environmentally-conscientious homeowner to do? The short answer is to be familiar with all of the rules and regulations that your HOA has. Know that many of these rules are standard and handed down by the builder when the neighborhood was built. Many of these are very old ways of thinking and your Home Owner's Association has the power to change these with community support.

If there is a neighborhood policy that you think is worthy of change, you are probably not the only one. The Association is made up of your neighbors and could include YOU. So get involved, rally the other "green" folks and think about what you can do to be good homeowners and environmentalists.

Ultimately, HOAs exist to protect the rights and property values of the members of the neighborhood. If you can present an argument that is accepted by the majority of the voting neighbors, you can get a covenant changed.